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Thursday, 19 June 2003
Page: 17129


Mr FITZGIBBON (12:44 PM) —Like the member for McMillan, I am very disappointed that the Minister for Transport and Regional Services has not deemed it appropriate to be here for this debate. And, again, like the member for McMillan, I am conscious that there are only a few minutes available to me, so I will cut straight to the chase. Members in this place would be well aware that, over the last seven years, I have expressed an interest in national highway funding, in particular funding for the New England Highway through my electorate. I am sure that many members, like me, find the budget papers increasingly lacking in transparency. It is very difficult to determine what projects received funding and which did not or were underfunded in this year's budget for the national highway project.

I want to pose a couple of questions to the minister about projects in my electorate. The first one I want to canvass is the road project that I refer to as the Kurri Corridor. It is the road link between the F3 Freeway and the New England Highway, just north of Branxton. I see that in the budget it received funding of about $8 million, which I welcome; but this a $320 million project. I would like some further indication from the government of its commitment to the project in terms of time frame. It is a big project, and I am very concerned that it is being funded too slowly. At the rate it is being funded, it will be another two decades before we will see that important road link completed through my electorate. Some feedback from the government on the time frame for the Kurri Corridor would be most appreciated. If the government has concerns that the New South Wales government is not bidding for money at a sufficiently rapid pace, I would welcome hearing that submission from the government.

The second question concerns the Muswellbrook bypass—another important project in my electorate. As far as I can determine, it has not received funding in this year's budget. I am happy to stand corrected on that point, but I would like some information from the government on whether the Muswellbrook bypass has received funding—and if not, why not. I do not question the government's commitment to that project, because it has received funding in the past. I believe the commitment is still there, but if the project has not received funding this year, I would like to know why and what the government's intended time frame is for it.